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Shri Natha Devi Premananda (Mataji) Transitions on Nov. 12 
By Sentinel News Service
Published November 17, 2022

Mataji (Courtesy photo)

 Shri Natha Devi Premananda, a respected spiritual teacher who selflessly served for 37 years as a beacon of light in South Los Angeles and the world, transitioned peacefully on Saturday, Nov. 12.

Affectionately known as Mataji, she was the founder of Eagle Wings of Enlightenment Center, a L.A.-based center dedicated to world peace and non-violence. Under her loving guidance, the center grew from humble beginnings to one that draws people from all over the world who come for blessings, healing, and to offer prayers for world peace.

A viewing ceremony for Mataji will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 23, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Rose Family Funeral Home, 4444 Cochran St., in Simi Valley. Seating is limited, and to reserve a seat, visit ewoec.org. A memorial service to celebrate Mataji’s life will be held at a later date.

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A native of Louisiana, Mataji was born on November 23, 1955 into a family deeply devoted to God, Jesus, and the Virgin Mary. This would deeply impact her life over the years. Both her father, Milton Cayette Sr., a well-known civil rights activist in Louisiana, and mother, Frances, instilled in her a deep love for Jesus and Mary.

Over the years, Mataji become a source of strength in the community, teaching both adults and youth the Holy Scripture of Jesus Christ and human values, including self-respect, humility, integrity, moral conduct, unconditional love, and mindfulness. She had counseled thousands and held daily prayers for peace and forgiveness. She also taught meditation and the ancient science of yoga.

Through her leadership, the center conducted annual health fairs, regular Bible Study and Rites of Passage classes for youth, outreach programs to clothe and feed the poor, and supported a local women’s shelter. Mataji prevented men and women from committing suicide and helped to diffuse violence and drunken brawls in the surrounding community. In South L.A., Mataji counseled parents who had lost children from gang violence, teenagers who went astray, and, particularly, young boys who could not seem to find their way.

In Joshua Tree, California, Mataji oversaw Our Lady Queen of Peace Sanctuary, a beautiful and serene retreat center dedicated to Mother Mary. Pilgrims can come and pray for world peace and walk a nearly one-fourth mile-long universal rosary made out of white marble on the mountainside.

Mataji traveled the world sharing her wisdom and offering prayers for world peace. Her travels took her to Africa, France, Italy, Bosnia, India, Sicily, Egypt, Peru, Australia, Zealand, and Bolivia. Mataji led Interfaith programs at the center for many years in honor of diverse religions in the hope of bringing a deeper understanding of international culture and beliefs.

Mataji was known worldwide for her mission of unity in diversity in action. The Center has a Peace Pole sanctioned by the United Nations along with a Tibetan Prayer Wheel for the healing of South Central Los Angeles.

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As part of a documentary of the Heart Shrine Buddha Relics Tour, which the center twice hosted, she was quoted, along with His Holiness the Dalai Llama and His Holiness the Karmapa, spreading a message of loving-kindness, compassion, and enlightenment. She had spoken internationally in India, Bolivia, and Africa to audiences that included prominent community leaders, adults, and children.

Mataji hosted nine days of prayers for peace after September 11, 2001. These prayers were for the healing of America and humanity’s relationships with one another.

Over the years, Mataji fasted extensively for 40 days to bring about non-violence in the community and the eradication of racism in the hearts of the people of America. During a 69-day fast undertaken by Mataji, she was divinely inspired and given a prayer to eradicate racism in America. Members of the center prayed this prayer daily for one year, culminating at the time of President Obama’s inauguration.

Mataji’s deep devotion to Mary, the mother of Jesus, was rewarded by the many heavenly messages for world peace that she received from Our Lady over the years. The center houses an 8-foot icon of Our Lady Queen of Peace which has had a significant impact on those who have come over the years seeking answers when in distress. Through Mataji’s prayers, Our Lady also impacted the lives of those who have been in need of healing. In a 2007 Los Angeles Times article, Mataji was described as a mystic and the “lady who prays.”

Mataji and a group of women were recognized by the Los Angeles Sentinel newspaper for conducting a walk of penance for those who have lost loved ones through violent acts throughout South L.A. Over the years, Mataji was recognized by President Barack Obama, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, and the Los Angeles Board of Education. She also was named an Ambassador for Peace and is the recipient of the Ambassador of Goodwill Award.

Mataji is survived by a daughter, Khalilah Caldwell (Willie Richardson); grandchildren, Jayda and Mayah; sister, Sharon Lavigne; brothers, Milton Cayette Jr. and Robert Cayette (Angela), as well as a host of loving nieces, great-nieces, nephews, great-nephews, cousins, and godchildren.

 

Categories: Celebration of Life
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